All the Bears wanted for Christmas was the Arizona Cardinals.
The home team obliged, gift-wrapping a much-needed win for the visitors.
It’s not something you would confuse with a signature victory, but the Bears’ win Sunday certainly had Lovie Smith’s name written all over it.
It had all the earmarks of a Smith victory during his nine-year run as head coach in Chicago.
They were playing a terrible team with a nonexistent offense.
The Cardinals featured a high school quarterback who was just as advertised, throwing more passes in the direction of Bears defensive backs than his own receivers, and the reason Ryan Lindley threw only one pick-6 is that his coach took him out early in the third quarter.
The Bears scored six minutes into the game when Cardinals running back Beanie Wells fell down on his own goal line, and untouched he dropped the ball so that Zack Bowman could fall on it for an early holiday gift.
The game was pretty much over at that point, but the Bears enjoyed themselves on holiday in the desert, collecting all sorts of nice defensive stats.
Julius Peppers even showed up, knowing there would be some easy sacks available, and the Bears’ defense dominated from start to finish.
They picked up 2 more defensive touchdowns, giving them 9 for the year and leaving them 1 shy of the NFL record. They are 1-5 this year when the defense doesn’t score, and now 8-1 when it finds the end zone.
“Yes,” Smith said, “we have won a lot of games that way.”
The Bears also got good field position with terrible special-teams play by the Cards, including a fake field goal run by the slowest player in the NFL, Arizona kicker Jay Feely.
And the Arizona defense even chipped in by dropping an early interception on the Bears’ 15-yard line.
Yes, the Bears are who we thought they were, a bad offensive team capable of destroying an inferior opponent with their defense, and the Cardinals are precisely what the Bears expected them to be, a team incapable of anything on offense.
The Bears were, however, awful on special teams, and that’s not been the norm for a Smith team.
So not terribly exciting or informative Sunday, and while the Bears will crow about their big victory in Arizona, the win doesn’t mean much if they don’t beat another bad opponent next Sunday in Detroit.
The difference is the Bears will have to score some points on offense.
“Offensively, we have to play better,” Jay Cutler said. “It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we got it done.”
Matthew Stafford needs 305 yards passing to become the first quarterback with back-to-back 5,000 yard seasons — Drew Brees also has an excellent shot — and Calvin Johnson needs 108 for 2,000 yards receiving.
So the Lions will be flinging the ball. They’re a lock to turn the ball over a few times, meaning the Bears still have a reasonable chance to reach 10 victories.
Even then, the Bears need some help to make the playoffs after Minnesota’s surprising victory at Houston on Sunday.
“You never know in this league what’s gonna happen,” Cutler said. “Minnesota played great on the road down in Houston and not many people probably saw that one coming.”
It puts the Bears in the odd position of having to root for Green Bay to beat the Vikings in Minnesota, a game that will have meaning for the Packers.
“I’ve always been a big Packers fan,” Smith said with a chuckle, allowing for a rare moment of humor. “You know, we can’t worry about that. All we can do is win next week.”
For a change, it’s hard to argue with a statement from the head coach.
ŸHear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.